Career Tips from DACA College Graduates

Career Tips from DACA College Graduates
portrait of Staff Writers
By Staff Writers

Published on August 26, 2021

Share on Social

Since 2017, the number of DACA-eligible students attending college has significantly increased. As DACA students graduate, they need relevant information and assistance to prepare for graduate school, apply for an internship or fellowship, or land a full-time job after college.

This article provides individual perspectives from three graduate students and alumni who have navigated the college application process, completed an undergraduate program, and are currently working full time or attending graduate school. While these college graduates differ in terms of their career interests, these tips can be helpful to all DACA students looking for career advice after college.

Interview With Career Expert Oscar Romero


Oscar is a senior software engineering consultant at Levvel. He became a DACA recipient and Golden Door Scholar in 2013 and graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2017. Oscar was raised in a small town in eastern North Carolina, and he was four years old when he arrived in the U.S. from Mexico in 1999. Oscar grew up aspiring to make something worthwhile out of his parent's hard work and sacrifice. He is currently an active volunteer for immigration rights organizations.

What tips would you give to an undocumented student who is looking for career advice or resources to prepare for graduate school?

What you study in college does not determine what you are capable of doing for the rest of your life. As an alum, I can breathe easier knowing this and set my eyes on a goal that may take a couple of years without questioning if it's the right decision. Once I reach the goal I rest easier knowing that regardless of the outcome I invested in myself to learn new skills and abilities. Then, I can identify if practicing these new skills and abilities will provide me joy, financial stability, and the adequate work-life balance I desire in my life. If I can answer yes, then I can continue on the same track. If a few of the answers are no, then I look at what can be adjusted and set a new goal. It is alright if it takes me in a completely different direction.

Be kind to yourself. Love that you are questioning who you are because that will always be part of your journey. Redefining yourself is not a bad thing. Understand that a degree and grades do not define your self-worth but enhance your journey with new experiences. Find enough conviction to get through your degree and then challenge how far you can make it with that degree every day until you find you want to explore something new.

Interview With Career Expert Ricardo Crespo


Ricardo is a first-year medical student and North Carolina native. Ricardo has a professional interest in family medicine and aspires to be someone his patients can trust and come to for anything. He also has a keen interest in both sports medicine and community service, and strives to always be as involved in the community as much as possible. Additionally, Ricardo works as a Spanish tutor and volunteers as an interpreter at a free clinic.

What tips would you give to an undocumented student who is looking for career advice or resources to prepare for graduate school?

Develop a strong network of professors, financial aid advisors, mentors, upperclassmen, etc., as these people will be the ones to offer the best advice on how you should approach your passions and aspirations.

Keep an updated resume and/or curriculum vitae. You will need this as you progress through your academic and professional career. Similarly, gain new experiences! Regardless of your major or intended career, never be afraid to try new things and gain competence in a variety of areas of expertise.

Lastly, make sure that you take a break and feel proud of what you have accomplished. Graduating college is no small feat, and you should take time to enjoy life with your family and friends.

Interview With Career Expert Judith Perez Castro


Judith is an incoming law student at Indiana University's Robert H. McKinney School of Law and an ICLEO Fellow. She is also a part-time court reporter for Clinton Superior Court in Indiana. Judith attended Wingate University where she graduated with summa cum laude honors in May of 2020. She identifies as a first-generation student and is recipient of a full-ride scholarship through the Golden Door Scholars program. Her father's near deportation in her junior year of high school inspired Judith to pursue a law degree so she could one day defend immigrant, working-class families. After receiving her law degree, Judith plans to start her legal career as a pauper attorney in her hometown of Frankfort, Indiana, and specialize in criminal and immigration law.

What tips would you give to an undocumented student who is looking for career advice or resources to prepare for graduate school?

Networking: Reach out to people in the fields you're interested in pursuing — they're usually willing to help. Your undergraduate professors, etc. are there for you as well post graduation. Don't be afraid to ask for a recommendation letter or advice in general.

Have a game plan: If you know what you want to pursue as a career or in graduate school, you have to know the steps to reach your goals. Research deadlines and requirements. If you don't know, ask the person in charge or reach out to someone who has done what you're wanting to do.

Be willing to put the work in: You may not be the smartest person but work ethic goes a long way. This journey isn't easy — if you want something you have to grind for it.

Feature Image: Stephen Swintek / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Find employers that support the DACA program, and explore career resources available for Dreamers. Find out more about the application process and your educational rights with our graduate school guide for undocumented students. Find fellowships and internships for DACA and undocumented students so you can gain professional development and prepare for your future career.